8.1.2 The European Union Lecture

EU Institution


The European Council

Made up of the heads of government, European Council President and the President of the European Commission.

The Commission

Proposing legislation and ensuring that EU laws are implemented and applied. The Commission can bring proceedings against EU institutions or Member States that are in breach of their obligations under EU law. E.g. C-382/92, Re Business Transfers: EC Commission v UK [1994] ECR I-2435

The Council of the European Union

Makes policy and approves legislative initiatives proposed by the Commission.

The Council of the EU is comprised of Member States' government representatives.

European Parliament

MEPs and 766. Elections based on the regional list system.

Parliament and the Council jointly exercise legislative functions.

Court of Justice of the European Union

The function of the CJEU is to 'ensure that in the interpretation and application of Treaties the law is observed'. Articles 263 and 267 TFEU.

Source of Law



The highest forms of law in the EU, some give rise to direct effect in national courts - Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen (1963) Case 26/62. Not all Treaty provisions have direct effect. Where the treaty provision has direct effect between two private parties, this is referred to as horizontal direct effect. When it is relied upon against the State, this is known as vertical direct effect.


Article 288 TFEU. Horizontal and vertical direct effect.


Art.288 - they do not have direct effect. Exceptions - Case 41/74 Van Duyn v Home Office (No.2) (1974) ECR 1337).

Only vertical direct effect - Cases 152/84 Marshall v Southampton and South West Hampshire AHA [1986] ECR 723.

The CJEU has categorised the scope of public bodies broadly.



Recommendations and Opinions

Not binding.

D. EU Law and the British Constitutional Law

The UK is bound by international law only once there is a piece of legislation that incorporates the international agreement into law. The Treaty of Rome. European Communities Act 1972 (EC Act) in order to give effect in the UK.

The ECJ has at certain times expanded the terms of European legal supremacy beyond that which had been understood during negotiations around European Treaties. The UK courts have had to acknowledge the supremacy of EU law over domestic law and whether the EC Act 1972 actually does bind future Parliaments - Lister v Forth Dry Dock and Engineering Ltd [1990] 1 AC 546. However, the EC Act 1972 is capable of repeal and Parliament has not bound its successors.

E. European Union Act 2011 and the Lisbon Treaty

In the Lisbon Treaty, the EU drew a clearer line between the competencies of Member States and those of the EU. The Treaty amends the TEU- Article.

Article 35 TEU provides that 'any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements'. This provision clarifies the position of the UK that it is able to pass legislation that repeals the EC Act 1972 in order to withdraw the country from the EU.

The European Union Act 2011 = any proposal that sought to transfer power from the UK to the EU be put to a referendum of the UK electorate – S.2.

Section 3 applies similar arrangements to the simplified revision procedure for making amendments to the TFEU under Article 48(6) TEU. EU Act 2011 effectively retains the balance of power between the EU and the UK.

F. The European Union Referendum and Brexit

For the UK to leave the EU, it must invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which occurred in 2017EU law will remain static in the UK until it leaves the EU. The UK will need to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 in order to complete its departure from the EU.

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